PhD position: Effect of real roughness on thermal convection

Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen

Type of Job

Young Researchers

PhD position: Effect of real roughness on thermal convection

Job offer from June 19, 2019

Job description

Are you fascinated by physics and interested in developing of state-of-the-art fluid dynamics computer simulations to better understand real world problems? Are you ambitious and dynamic? Do you strive for excellence? We are looking for a PhD student to carry out state-of-the-art research on turbulent convection. Thermal convection plays a crucial role in natural and industrial settings, from astrophysical and geophysical flows to process engineering. Roughness is omnipresent in nature, e.g. vegetation canopies with respect to atmospheric flows, and many engineering applications need to deal with rough boundaries. The paradigmatic representation of thermal convection is Rayleigh–Bénard flow; a layer of fluid heated from below and cooled from above. So far thermal convection has mainly been studied in idealized cases and most studies on the effect of roughness have focused on idealized roughness patterns, which may trigger specific flow patterns. To overcome this limitation, you will study heat transfer in turbulent flows over random sand grain roughness patterns using high-fidelity numerical simulations. Such simulations are an ideal tool to improve our fundamental insight of these flows since simulations allow us to visualize the flow and study important physical effects under controlled and reproducible conditions. In this PhD project, funded by an ERC starting grant,  you will further develop and use state-of-the-art direct numerical simulations to figure out what physical mechanisms determine what surface characteristics influence the heat transport in turbulent flow over rough plates. The goal of your project is to find roughness patterns that will make the flow in the boundary layers fully turbulent and hence trigger the so-called ultimate regime of thermal convection. 


This research project will be embedded in the Max Planck Center For Complex Fluid Dynamics ( The center is composed by two research groups from the University of Twente in the Netherlands and four groups from two different Max Planck Institutes. Research on thermal convection is performed in the Max Planck for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and in the Physics of Fluids group at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, where you will be stationed. For the project you will have access to several top supercomputers in the world. For further information, you are encouraged to view and to read our recent publications on the topic. 

Your profile

You have a background in applied physics or mechanical engineering, or in a closely related discipline. You have strong communication skills, including fluency in written and spoken English. You are enthusiastic, and highly motivated to do a PhD. Programming experience in C or Fortran is a plus.

Our offer

We want you to play a key role in an ambitious project in an inspiring and stimulating international work environment.

  • We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating modern research environment with world-class research facilities.
  • You will have an employment contract for a fulltime position for the duration of 4 years and can participate in all employee benefits offered by the University of Twente.
  • You will be embedded in a dynamic research group with colleagues working on similar topics.
  • You will follow a high-quality personalized educational program.
  • The research will result in a PhD thesis at the end of the employment period.
  • The Max Planck Society strives for gender and diversity equality. We welcome applications from all backgrounds. Handicapped individuals are particularly encouraged to apply.

How to apply

Potential applicants are encouraged to apply to Dr. Richard Stevens (

Applications should include the following documents:

  • A motivation letter describing why you want to apply for this position.
  • Description of your research interests.
  • A detailed CV.
  • Academic transcripts from your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
  • Email addresses of at least two references who are willing to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf.
  • An interview with a scientific presentation will be part of the interview process.
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